Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bruges Wanderings in May 2013

After getting off the boat and riding the charter bus to the Bruges train station, we walked into town to see some sights before our afternoon train to Brussels (where our hotel was). The sights start right across the street from the train station, as we immediately discovered one of the many waterways in Bruges.

L on the first of many bridges

View on the water

The area is called Minnewaterpark and is located near what was the southern defenses of the town. One medieval tower still stands--the Powder Tower, originally built in 1398.

Powder tower

Us with the tower in the background

The park is at the south end of town, so we walked north and soon discovered some of the charming houses built on the canal's edge.

Looks like a normal Belgian house...

but it is really...

ultimate waterfront property!

The canals were a common form of transportation, though now only tour boats motor along.

Swans on the canal

Tourists on the canal

The other popular form of tourist transportation is horse-drawn carriages. We saw dozens of them in the morning. They seemed to follow a regular route through the town, sharing the road with pedestrians, cars, bicycles, etc.

Traveling in style

A horse fountain!

The presence of little shrines over doorways and at corners still amazes me. The Christian faith has certainly left a strong stamp on the town.

Someone's door

Detail of the door decoration

We also discovered a small community, Godhuis St. Jozef, built in the 17th century. It was an almshouse built by a rich family as a residence for the poor and the elderly. Inside is a massive garden with little homes circling it. The garden even has it's own well (which didn't seem functional anymore) and a resident cat. The kids loved petting the cat. A small, church-shaped building at one end is where the poor and elderly would pray for their benefactors.

Outside the community

Inside the community

The well

The cat

The church?

The area also has its share of tourist traps, including this tempting location. At least, it was tempting to me.

Ultimate souvenirs!

We had a nice lunch of waffles and french fries (and beer) and were soon on our way to a playground for the kids to have some fun.

Not the healthiest lunch, but maybe the tastiest!

More later!

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